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A dozen reasons to stop off at the Beach

By Marisa Nadolny

Publication: The Day

Published 01/02/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 12/31/2013 12:06 PM

Allow me to suggest one last dietary hurrah before any New Year's resolutions take effect. Tucked in a nondescript plaza just over the Westbrook border in Clinton lies Beach Donut Shop. Go there and take a deep breath just outside the shop. Enter and be glad you read this, as more than a dozen flavors of neatly shelved, hand-made donuts greet customers.

Now, Beach Donut offers more than just donuts, and among its best menu items is the basic two-egg and cheese breakfast sandwich ($3.50), available on a choice of breads, including very good bagels and equally good hard rolls. In sampling the latter, I was asked if I wanted that hard roll toasted and salt and pepper sprinkled upon the eggs. I did, and it was a good call, indeed. Perfect egg-layering and melted cheese merged with crisp, flavorful roll in breakfast-y bliss.

Basic lunch sandwiches (think grilled cheese and BLTs) round out the savory menu, and the shop has begun to offer omelets (with toast and homefries for a very fair $6.75) for breakfast.

Among non-donut sweets are muffins, giant chocolate chip cookies, spectacular whoopie pies, apple fritters and, on the weekends, dessert breads, but in the interest of not collapsing from sugar shock, I opted to stick to the main attraction of donuts for the bulk of this review. Twelve of them ($11 for a dozen; $1.25 each). Luckily, my colleagues were able to help me finish off the white box of joy I brought into work on a recent Monday morning. My notes on each flavor follow. Favorites are marked with an asterisk.

*1. As a sucker for all things sprinkled and frosted, donut number 1 was the vanilla frosted with sprinkles. It is a donut I'll enjoy again, as a slight note of honey adds welcome nuance to this sweet treat. Even the base-cake offered some flavor depth, and the froster did not scrimp on the sprinkles.

*2. Boston cream: My new favorite pastry sports delicious, thick, chocolate frosting with a very nice custard center. Cake presented a bit of classic "fried" flavor, but in the best possible way.

3. Cinnamon sugar crueller: The cinnamon doesn't fade away into background, offering a brightness to this dense, hearty stick with a crispy exterior. Cinnamon prevents an overdose of fried flavor.

4. Chocolate glazed crueller: Deep chocolate flavor, with crispy edges like its cinnamon counterpart. This is a heavy hitter, folks, and I'd recommend sharing.

5. Cookies and cream: A basic-cake donut filled with custard that presented strong vanilla flavor. The top of the donut is dusted with Oreo-looking cookie crumbs and vanilla frosting. What should have been the deep chocolate of the cookie crumbles got lost in the wave of cream-filling flavor, which is not altogether bad, but I would've preferred more cookie crunch.

*6. Glazed jelly-filled: Very bright fruit flavor from what I suspect is raspberry jelly within. This round little gem is glazed, which provides nice crispness.

7. Apple crisp: A bit heavy and greasy; where apple should be prevalent flavor, I mostly discerned a general taste of oil.

8. Apple cider: Tart - almost too tart, bordering on sour - with strong apple flavor, I could see this donut pairing well with coffee, but it hit a little too heavy for me.

*9. Sour cream: This is kind of your Plain Jane donut, with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and is most definitely a great partner with coffee. Crisp outside, soft within, this is a very elegant donut.

10. Blueberry: Very pleasant flavor, with lots of blueberry shining through, this is a glazed donut that's more dense than cake bases like the sprinkled or Boston Cream.

11. Pumpkin: Very rich and heavy on flavor, with a glaze. Bright and spicy with lighter cake, this donut managed to appeal to someone who doesn't typically love pumpkin-flavored things

*12. Bavarian creme: This powdered, pudding-filled beauty is not too sweet, not too greasy. Very good.

Twelve donuts later, I've still got several flavors to sample next visit. It is a mission I'll take on gladly, as it's clear the shop staff take their craft seriously. They've been doing it for 60 years, and here's hoping they continue for 60 more.

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Beach Donut Shop

344 East Main St., Clinton
(860) 501-1865

Cuisine: Baked goods, among which donuts are the star attraction, and sandwiches

Atmosphere: Casual and cheery; a handful of tables provide ample space in which to sip the quite-good house coffee and dig into breakfast.

Service: Brisk but pleasant

Prices: Easy on the wallet

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard and Discover

Reservations: No

Handicapped access: No steps to enter, relatively spacious interior

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